String Family All instruments in the string family have strings. They are played either by running a bow across the strings or by plucking the strings. When string instruments are played, the strings vibrate and the vibrations produce a sound. The smaller the instrument is, the higher the tone. Every string of a stringed instrument is tuned to a different pitch.
Woodwind Instruments Bassoon Clarinet Saxophone English Horn Oboe Flute Bassoon Clarinet Saxophone English Horn Oboe Flute Piccolo
Woodwind Family Woodwinds are played by blowing through or into a hole. This group was given the name woodwind because all woodwinds except the saxophone were made out of wood in the past. Now most woodwinds are made out of metal or other materials. Clarinets, saxophones, oboes and bassoons are reed instruments. When the player blows on the mouthpiece, the reed vibrates and makes a sound. The players control the pitch by putting their fingers on a hole or a key that covers a hole.
Brass Instruments French Horn Tuba Trombone Trumpet
Brass Instruments All brass instruments have a metal mouthpiece. The players control the pitch by pressing harder or relaxing their lips and pressing valves on the instruments. The trumpet and french horn have high pitches while the tuba and trombone have low pitches. Instead of valves, the trombone has a slide. The player controls the pitch by sliding the slide back and forth.
Percussion instruments make sounds by being hit with a stick or mallet or by shaking them. Drums are the most common percussion instruments. Western drums don't produce different pitches. Bells, xylophones and glockenspiels have a series of bars that produce a range of pitches.
Keyboard Instruments Keyboard instruments have a series of connected keys. The player presses keys to make sounds. The most popular keyboard instrument is the piano. On a piano, when a key is pressed, a small hammer strikes a string to make a sound. When a key is struck on a harpsichord, a mechanism plucks a string to produce a sound. Organs make sounds when air vibrates through an open pipe. Notes on an organ are played with the hands and feet.
Chamber Orchestra Chamber orchestra is an orchestra much smaller than a symphony orchestra, usually playing compositions suited to it. These orchestra originated in the palaces of kings and nobility.